As Black women, we’ve been programmed to work harder than everyone else. The pressure put on us to be successful outweighs many other societal demands. We have to not only be successful but in order to gain that success, we have to be 10 times better than our white counterparts. These ideas lead us to believe that our careers are all we have on this earth to prove that we are of worth.
Big Dreams v. Reality
I’ve fallen victim to these mindsets too. I have caught myself not being content at all with where I was in life solely based off of where I was in my career. In my early 20s, I had huge dreams. Dreams that were big enough to fill my mind every day of the life I’d be living. When I graduated college and saw the reality of what it takes to get to what success looked like for me, that’s when this trend of worthlessness tied to my career began.
Toxic Grind Culture
I found that I was overworking myself under the idea that “grinding” was the only way to success. Which in theory it is, but at the rate I was going, I don’t know how I didn’t get burned out quick. I would work two to three side jobs in order to pay my bills and then I would intern/volunteer in roles in my field for little to no pay. Most days I’d wake up at four in the morning and not get home until 11 at night. All of this just to prove that I belong in this industry.
“Grind culture” comes from the idea that sleep isn’t a necessity. Our goals and what it takes to get to them are the only thing that matters in this mindset. So many of us were taught that this is the way to get to successes without realizing the damage it does. You create unhealthy habits this way and it’s rare that you actually set aside time to take care of yourself. My mother used to always tell me that if you don’t ever choose to sit down, your body will force you to. Boy, was she right.
Being Forced To Take A Break
When my body caught up with the amount of running around I was doing, it had a conversation with my mind and they both shut down. A few years ago I got really sick and had to stay home for about two weeks to recover. I wasn’t hustling anymore, I wasn’t grinding, I was just being still. I learned so much in that time of rest. I was able to sit in silence and just listen. Listening to my thoughts, listening to my silence and listening to my body. I learned that I need to chill. That I will get to my destination one day and I needed to trust that. Although I did learn some things, I still didn’t quite learn my lesson that my career isn’t my end all be all.
A Wake Up Call
In 2020, I ended up getting fired from a position I worked really hard to get. It wasn’t because of the pandemic nor was it because of budget cuts. My boss and I never saw eye to eye and although I was good at my job, that didn’t matter to him. There are ways around dealing with a toxic boss, but I didn’t quite learn them yet.
When I got fired, I immediately threw myself into what seemed like a never ending depression. I felt like because I worked so hard on my craft, the only thing in my life I somewhat had control over was my career. He took that away from me. I felt worthless and I questioned what my future looked like. After about two week of eating ridiculous amounts of food and binging every show I could find, I decided to look myself in the mirror and talk to the reflection staring back at me.
I had to let go of the idea that I was only of worth if I was thriving in my career. Even when I was employed I felt the need to shove down everyone’s throats that I was doing well in my role to prove that I was worthy of their respect. I should never have to do that. I asked myself who would I be if I stripped away my titles, accolades, awards and achievements. I realized I couldn’t answer that confidently. Therefore, that was my newest goal. To find out who I was without my career and worldly possessions. What does my soul look like? That’s all that matters. When I die I can’t take any of this with me, so I need to figure out at the very root of all of this who I am and why I am here.
It’s A Daily Process
I still catch myself getting frustrated if I feel like I am falling behind. I have to remember that none of this matters to the grand scheme of things. My career will come to fruition when it’s time for it to. I will still work hard in my career but that isn’t my goal. My goal is to be the best version of myself that I can be and trust that everything will fall in line behind that.